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Mark Steadman
Mark Steadman

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What Devs Can Do On Global Accessibility Awareness Day

Today is Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD)! A day focused on bringing awareness about accessibility and inclusion in the digital space. More than one billion people alive today live with a disability or an impairment. Think about that number for a second.

Some of you reading this may not even realize that you use assistive technologies everyday! Enlarged fonts, dark mode, even voice control on your phone! All of those things, play into the accessibility of the content you create.

It is our jobs as developers to ensure that the content we create is usable by ALL users of our applications. Whether you are a web developer or a mobile developer, the content you create MATTERS!

So what can you do on this 12th GAAD? Let's lay out some simple things you could do to begin you A11y journey!

Learn About Digital Accessibility!

Different Arrays of disabilities on display

Building a foundation and understanding for the different types of assistive technologies that exist, the standards that exist for web/mobile, and how users interact with the content you create is essential.

Here are some articles and videos :

Sign up for A11y Newsletter!

The best way to find articles to read up on accessibility is to subscribe a newsletter that contains articles that are great for gaining accessibility knowledge. Here are just a few:

Test your project!

The best way to learn more about accessibility, is to simply dive right in. Try the following simple tests on your site or mobile application to see how accessible it is.

Digital accessibility logo

Web Tests

  • In the browser, use Crtl then + to enlarge your font on your site. No text should be cut off or overlap
  • Navigate your site via only keyboard. Can you access all actionable content and activate with enter or space?
  • As you navigate with keyboard with Tab does each item have a visible focus indicator around it?
  • Do all inputs have persistent and visible labels?

The final thing to do is download an accessibility extension such as WAVE or Axe Devtools and let it automatically check for the issues on your site!

Mobile accessibility testing

Mobile Tests

  • Under your applications respective Accessibility settings, enlarge the font and see if any text is cut off
  • Ensure you are not using color alone to indicate critical data (Ex: Positive is green, negative is red)
  • Do all inputs have persistent and visible labels?

The final thing to do is a little automated testing. In Android, you can download the Google Accessibility Scanner and it will give you some high level issues. In iOS, you can simply plug your phone into your mac and run the Accessibility Inspector and audit your app!

Start A11y Linting!

One super easy win you could do on GAAD, is turn on linting rules that include accessibility. No matter what type of project you are building, there is a linter for it.

If you are a web developer, there are limitless number of linters that can fit your tech stack. If you want more information on them you can find it in Automated Accessibility Linting

If you are a mobile developer, simply use what is available to you! Android developers, there is built in linting for you via the Accessibility Testing Framework. If you are an iOS developer, you can use Swiftlint or Xiblint for your project!

Bringing it all together

On this day, we bring awareness to those who may not know just yet the impact of the development they do everyday on those with disabilities. Taking even one of these simple actions above starts to build that awareness within your development teams and community.

So my question is, what will you do today to help bring accessibility into your development!?

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